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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  August 27, 2013 12:00am-12:31am PDT

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>> good evening from los angeles. tonight the first of the conversation dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the march on washington and the legacy of martin luther king, junior how radicalo forget this was, how kennedys white house tried to get the andnizers to call it off, how the majority of americans had an unfavorable view of it. the peaceful protest seemed impossible to fathom. violence.d of
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it is universally acknowledged as one of the seminal events of the 20th century as they stood to demand those jobs and freedom. epic tome is considered the gold standard for that era. all this is coming up right now. >> and by contributions to your
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pbs station from viewers like you. inc. you. thank you. >> joining us now to kick off these three nights of this historicon anniversary is the author of "the king years." fromr branch joins us washington. it is good to have you back on the program. >> i have been. talking and getting the message out.
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let me start with the obvious questions. how does the march on washington ?it into this narrative >> it comes in 1963, when the sees politicsly by the throat because of the demonstrations in birmingham earlier that spring culminating ofthe citizens -- sit in previous years. it led them to call for of march , so 63 was the year of the big rig through to put the civil rights movement at the forefront of american politics. i mentioned a factoid, the
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notion president kennedy did everything he could to convince that march.have >> he was right to propose the almostights bill was suicidal because democrats had depended on the solid south, and the solid south depended on segregation. innedy was putting all that jeopardy. he was very reluctant. >> what about the fact that the have enoughot
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confidence to pull together a march with that many people? if you get that many people together it has to be violent. >> part of the reason the march has such a funny reputation is fear.e there was immense there was a percentage in the south that were made and day laborers. it was assumed if you got a large number of black people together it would be mayhem and riot. the hospital stockpile plasma and canceled elective surgery. the federal government told their employees to stay home.
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.hey were so confident >> what do we know about how the president felt? dr. king closed the show. then the president comes to the white house for the photo op. how do we read how he felt? >> he was pressuring them to get rid of anyone hoover did not think was 100% american. he had overcome a hurdle. what he told them is congress is
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stuck in gridlock. the bill most likely would not passed had president kennedy not been killed and changed the tone of it. get the peopleto out of the movement that were not 100% american. it occurred to me he was talking .o martin luther king, junior after the march, king becomes regarded by hoover as the most dangerous man in america. yes? after that we should mark him as the most dangerous in america from the
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standpoint of security. it is a sad commentary people say in our government would this is the most dangerous in america. >> i suspect as we celebrate america in the king years. lived five years after. by the time he dies he is regarded as the most dangerous man in america. the majority of americans had fallen out with dr. king.
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everyday black folk were mad at him because they thought he was not black enough. later, but byim the time he died was he not the man in america. >> he was pledging renewed allegiance to nonviolence. america made a choice that we are still living with, which is are we going to overcome our differences, or are we going to take the path of trying to enforce them with violence.
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i hope we will have a more balanced view of the choices. >> how subversive would his message be had he a chance to get to that microphone? kennedye that president .id not come to the march how dangerous might his message ?e >> his violence to the world in many respect is echoed to the united states more since his death. we are out of phase.
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how do we get in better balance with it? we make such amazing progress for women and have a black president, yet our politics are so crippled. in abody says we are critical phase, but no one asks why. >> on a personal note, how does it feel for you to spend with the guy being so honored.
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>> it feels wonderful. i never met him in the flash. i just hope we can begin to get in better balance with it. some of the fault is on our side. we are responsible for the cynicism. a lot of us want to talk only about race. other people do not want to talk about race because they feel it is a way to lose elections. they are trapped in language that has translated hostility over racial lines into hostility
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to the government. are basically saying the only way forward is for the other side to drop dead. i am hoping we can get balance. movement, and we for theake credit danger he let loose. paid enormous dividends for many move in, including the white south. when black people liberate theelf from racism, one of chief beneficiaries would be white southerners. >> that was the most area died read -- that was very nicely
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said. everything you put forth is usually nicely said. his book is called the king years. thank you for your life and legacy. taylor branch his friend is now a congressman and the last surviving speaker from the march on washington. stay with us. please be joined by the last surviving person to speak. his speech was so fiery they asked him to tone it down.
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tonightressman joins us from washington. i have been praying for you. they might kill him working him to death. they keep for making time. i really appreciate it. >> thank you for having me on tonight. give me some sense of how you have been handling it the past few days. blessed to have an opportunity to reminisce, to think about what happened, and to see all the interest on the
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part of the media and young people. they think about and reflect upon what happened and how it happened. i feel like i am obligated to remind people what it was like. it was a different country, and today we are witnesses to changes all over america. >> we have come a long way. is there a particular thing about which you are most
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what is mostly disturbing you these days? >> i am deeply concerned we have not been able to lay down the burden of race. they are going to take many down the burden of race. we have high unemployment 50 years ago in the african- american community. we still have high unemployment. i am deeply troubled that so drunkf our children are out of high school. we need to make sure people receive the best education. a sense of optimism
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so they will never give up or give in. the fear is gone. people are no longer afraid. afraidere so many people to be afraid. isir fear is gone, and that a good day. people need to get out there and continued to fight and to our struggle is for a lifetime for all of our citizens. >> i take your point, but how do
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to a young person who might say to you, it has 50 years, and we cannot get a real conversation about poverty. what do you say to the young , and they get a chance butee dr. kings monument, where the data is concerned, they say, we have not done much. >> i was saying to a group of you continue to
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preach, you continue to educate, to lobby and protests until you get it done. it is the struggle of a lifetime. you have to make a politician >> there are a lot of , ande who hear that story
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even president obama is telling tot story, but i am trying see where the willpower is to actually push the president on issues. to get a sense of how we take what you said and put them into action to actually push them. >> we have an obligation. we have an obligation to make
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some noise. me a sense of how it feels to sit in this body. how does it feel for you? do you ever forget about it, or are you reminded here is a body you are protesting to do more, and now use it in this body?
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i have to do the best i can every day and our to make a contribution. i think if the climate and the thinknment -- sometimes i i'm a why must we travel down the same road again? will we ever learn? >> that is a damning indictment it is easierit han to get public policy past.
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do,ou knew what you had to but i think people and individuals that wake up in the what can i do to bring someone down rather than what can i do to help someone? what can i do to stop spending so much on bombs and guns rather than spending resources on lifting the lives of people, and proving the condition, for health care, for food, to end hunger and poverty. progress,f all the
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they are left kind, and congress needs to understand that. >> you are a long-distance fighter for freedom. it is never lost to me when i am in your company the sacrifices you have made for all of us. on this historic anniversary eve, thank you for your ongoing legacy. >> inc. you for having me. >> that is it for tonight. please join us tomorrow night for a look at how america has changed since the march and not changed in some ways. until then, thanks for watching, and as always, keep the faith to the faith.eep >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley on >> the changes in our countries
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years since the march on washington. that is next time. we will see you then. >> and by contributions from pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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hello, welcome to "this is us." i'm becca king-reed. this week we are aboard the uss hornet a world war ii air carrier for a special program in honor of pearl harbor remembrance day. you will hear a dozen local pearl harbor survivors recount how their lives were changed forever on december 7, 1941, when the sea turned to flames, ships were sunk, friends were lost, and this nation was catapulted into world war ii. old men who were once young warriors recall a date which will live in infamy. and it all starts now. your realtime captioner is linda marie macdonald.
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